My First Car: Van helped fuel car-buying bug

Ronald Wood and his son in the family Mini Traveller. Picture: Ronald Wood

Ronald Wood and his son in the family Mini Traveller. Picture: Ronald Wood - Credit: Ronald Wood

Ronald Wood's first set of four wheels was a Ford Squire van, followed by a Mini Traveller. They put him on the road to a car-buying bug which sees him buying a different model almost every year.

My first car was a Ford Squire van but before that I had motorbikes.

I was doing my National Service in the Army and, needing something to get home on, I bought a BSA Bantam. By 1963-64 we had two little boys so I bought, for £10, a 600cc BSA motorbike and sidecar. The sidecar was made of matchwood and when I went round a roundabout too fast, my wife and boys were looking down on me as the sidecar was about three feet in the air.

I then decided four wheels were better than three so bought, for £20 and a Grundig tape recorder, the Ford Squire van. It had tiny windows in the back, and the wipers went fast or slow depending on the engine speed.

I took my first driving test, costing £1, in this battered old van. The examiner – a dapper little man with a clipped moustache – caught the sleeve of his smart blazer on a piece of metal on the door frame, when getting out of the passenger seat, resulted in a big L-shaped tear. I failed the test. However, I passed a few weeks later in a dual-control car.

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I got rid of the van and bought a red Mini Traveller with two doors at the back. Both front wings soon went rusty and I painted them with Valspar house paint.

Next was a Vauxhall 101, comfortable car, but one day the wiring loom caught fire. Next I had a Datsun Bluebird automatic. it was very reliable and I had it about a year.

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I then got the car-buying bug and over the next 45 years or so, bought a different car almost every year – Japanese, Italian, French, German, people-carriers, SUVs and estates – I liked them all.

Tell people about your first set of wheels – email your memories with a picture to or post it to Andy Russell, Archant motoring editor, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich, NR1 1RE.

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